The equivalent of two vehicles a week were reported stolen across the south-west during last financial year, data shows.
The National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council figures, based on police statistics, show that 46 vehicle thefts took place in Warrnambool over the 12-month period, compared with just 30 thefts the previous financial year and 31 between 2013-2014.
More than 100 car thefts were recorded in the region, with 19 at Portland, 11 at Hamilton, eight at Camperdown and five at Terang.
Stolen vehicle reports in Portland were up on 15 the previous financial year but down from 2013-14 when 23 were recorded.
Warrnambool Police crime prevention officer sergeant Malcolm Agnew said there had been an increase in thefts, and trends in cars being stolen came in waves.
He said people should be locking cars at all times when they weren’t in them, including in their home driveways.
“Quite a lot of thefts will happen in people’s driveways because they think it will be OK,” Sergeant Agnew said.
“It’s a misconception.”
Three vehicles were stolen in Nirranda during the period while there were two each at Hawkesdale, Cobden and Bookaar. Single thefts were reported in Koroit, Mortlake, Panmure and Timboon.
Sergeant Agnew said people south-west residents needed to remain vigilant as summer approached and populations in coastal areas like Warrnambool and Portland swelled.